The Latest from Walksconsin

Some delightfully revealing developments out of Wisconsin, where Scott Walker’s Republican legislative majorities have passed out of committee a provision canceling Wisconsin’s ‘open records’ law, some form of which exists in almost every state, though more comprehensively than most in Wisconsin. As the State Journal puts it, “The proposal blocks the public from reviewing nearly all records created by lawmakers, state and local officials or their aides, including electronic communications and the drafting files of legislation. The language was included in the final version of the state’s 2015-17 budget, which passed the Legislature’s budget committee on a party-line vote late Thursday. The budget bill next goes to the full Assembly and Senate.”

Perhaps best of all the new rule creates something called a “legislator disclosure privilege”, which does not appear to exist in any other state. In other words, something like executive privilege at the national level or spousal privilege at the personal level, legislators in Wisconsin rather than having a special obligation to release information on their work for the public will now have a special privilege to withhold information.

Nor surprisingly, after the new proposal passed out of committee, suddenly no one would say who had come up with the idea and everyone professed to have no idea how the proposal got into the budget passed out of committee. Gov Walker’s spokesperson now says he supports making “changes” to the new law but declined to say whether he had played a role in proposing them. And these folks have at least some suggestive evidence that they may have come from the Gov in the first place.

I’m interesting in hearing more about the whodunnit here. So if anyone has more details (confidentiality guaranteed) please drop us a line.

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